5 May 2021-
England's most exciting (Rock) music duo is back with a third album that is all powerful, just what we needed in this dull 2021 Spring...
Rock music has produced quite a few thrilling duos over the years: The White Stripes — of course, The Kills — naturally, The Black Keys — who could forget… but none are perhaps quite as exciting today as Brighton’s own Royal Blood. Ever since they burst onto the scene, seemingly from nowhere, with their 2014 self-titled album, they have steadily risen to become a key driving force of British Rock music, and to some extent Rock music — period.
With good reason: in a music world that potentially over-uses technology (us being a music startup notwithstanding), Mike Kerr and his colleague Ben Thatcher bring in a refreshingly raw energy that was/is much needed these days. And it is the bluesy edge mixed with hard rock intensity of early hits like “Figure It Out” and “Lights Out” that made Royal Blood a creative force to be reckoned with.
Then came a gruelling sophomore promotional tour for How Did We Get So Dark?, brushes with alcohol abuse on Kerr’s side, the Covid-induced lockdown that we all experienced… And, apparently, a chance performance by a British cover band of theirs, all of which inspired the duo to come back with a fresh approach to their own creative process on third album Typhoons, which hit the stores days ago, not even long enough to hit the charts — yet.
So, what does this new and improved Royal Blood formula sound like? Interestingly, more sophisticated, a tad less raw, a bit more technological… Which is not to say we should be disappointed by any of that: in essence, the guys have been following in the footsteps of fellow British Rockers, from Matt Bellamy’s Muse to — perhaps even more directly — Alex Turner’s Arctic Monkeys. The common thread comes in the form of an output that grows in subtlety over time. Which is perhaps what every musician sort of tends to do anyway: that’s what we call wisdom, they say…
In the case of Typhoons, the result is more polished and layered productions, serving the still-edgy riffs and vocal stylings of a clearly present Kerr. While some of the sheer power present in earlier work may be somewhat more subdued here, we get instead more nuanced tracks, like “Who Needs Friends” or “Boilermaker”. Although these two still arguably feature riffs that AC/DC would be willing to listen to, singles “Trouble’s Coming” and “Typhoons” are prime examples of that new Royal Blood sound: the energy is there, but it is artfully channeled. The guitar work, for one, is filtered through in a manner reminiscent of Matt Bellamy’s, so that you get saturated sounds — albeit controlled.
Then you have the closer “All We Have Is Now” that Turner circa Tranquility Base Hotel + Casino may be in phase with — or any of the great Prog Rock bands of the 70’s, really. All in all, this new offering comes as an interesting portrait of the artistically evolving duo: you get new and more polished sounds, more refined production work, and a little less youthful violence. Let’s see if that becomes a trend…